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The term language (also referred to as a computer language)

generally means a programming language used by a programmer for writing a computer program. This program usually must be translated or changed (assembled, compiled, interpreted) into object code before the computer can execute the program.[1]


There are three levels of computer language in which computer programs may be written. High level language, such as the commonly used BASIC or FORTRAN, uses English words and symbols, and is relatively easy to learn and understand (e.g., "GO TO 40" tells the computer to skip intervening steps and go to the step at line 40). A somewhat lower level language is assembly language, which consists of alphanumeric labels (e.g., "ADC" means "add with carry"). Statements in high level language, and apparently also statements in assembly language, are referred to as written in "source code." The third, or lowest level computer language, is machine language, a binary language using two symbols, 0 and 1, to indicate an open or closed switch (e.g., "01101001" means, to the Apple, add two numbers and save the result). Statements in machine language are referred to as written in "object code."[2]


  1. U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of Copyright Office Practices II, §326 (1984)(full-text).
  2. Apple Computer, Inc. v. Franklin Computer Corp., 714 F.2d 1240, 1243, 219 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 113 (3d Cir. 1983) (full-text), cert. dism., 464 U.S. 1033 (1984).